With a little over a week left before we celebrate the coming of 2013, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! While it is not my style to get sentimental and reminisce about highlights of the year gone past, 2012 is a little bit different. In the most succinct terms possible, it really was a great year.
As it pertains to my life and what I’m passionate about, two amazing things happened this year. First, and most importantly, this is the year I married my amazing wife, Erin. On April 14th, the Talley family was gracious enough to allow us to host our small, intimate wedding ceremony in the barrel room. After six years of dating and now over six months of marrage, I am happy to be able to tell everyone that married life is great!
Secondly, 2012 was an awesome vintage for just about every region of California, especially here on the central coast. While I am proud to have been a part of Talley Vineyards for what has been a really excellent string of vintages (2007-2012), this year is special because it is the first year in a while with both high quality and above-average yields. Some of you may know that I dabble in wine production. This is the second year that the Talleys have allowed us to tend a section of vines in Edna Valley and make a small batch of wine. I, my wife, and co-workers, Mike and Ken, harvested twice the fruit as last year and so far we think the wine may be twice as good! Furthermore, now that some of the wines in the barrel room have had a few months of age, we are really starting to see that the Talley chardonnays and pinot noirs are going to be very special wines.
For a wine geek like myself, there is no better feeling than knowing that I can stock up on the 2012 vintage when they come out and be assured that the quality of the wine is going to reflect the way I feel about the year in which the fruit was grown. Since we have some time before those wines come out, I’m going to go back to my first vintage here at Talley and enjoy a bottle of 2007 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir for Christmas. For the rest of you, I suggest that you pull out a great bottle and share some stories with loved ones about the special things that happened in your lives this year. Cheers!
Regular readers of this blog know that I pay special attention to the weather. In my line of work, the weather is critically important—rain, heat, frost, fog, and wind all profoundly affect our activities and ultimately the quality of our products.
Sometimes, especially this time of year, I can simply observe and enjoy the weather and associated phenomena. Lately, we’ve had a series of beautiful sunsets. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside with Johnine, watch the sunset over the Pacific and enjoy a glass of wine. Our daughter, Elizabeth, captured the moment especially artfully this past Sunday evening as we shared some chardonnay.
During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, I hope you too can sit with those you love and appreciate what makes life so special. Best wishes for a joyous holiday season!
Last night we had our annual Talley staff Christmas party at Giuseppe’s Restaurant in Pismo Beach- and no, the night didn’t end with karaoke. As you can imagine, this is an exceptionally fun event where we have the amazing opportunity to taste a wide variety of rare, old vintages of Talley single vineyard wines. Even better, the wines are all from large format bottles which are not only festive, but are known to age better than small format bottles. The only difficult part is pacing oneself enough to fully appreciate what you’re tasting.
We kicked off the night with a 5 liter bottle of 2001 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay- which in the words of our direct sales manager Alyssa Ball, “Smelled and tasted rich, nutty, and delicious like a perfectly aged chardonnay”. I totally agree with her, and I’ll add that it was a wonderful complement to the creamy stuffed mushroom appetizer they were serving. That bottle disappeared pretty quickly (there were a lot of us), so we moved on to another 5 liter bottle, the 2007 Rincon Chardonnay. The Rincon was surprisingly fresh and citrusy, showing very youthful. If you have this wine in your cellar, it is drinking well now, but it definitely has a lot of years left to age.
So, with dinner on the way, we needed to fill our seats and our glasses- this time with a few pinot noirs. It was a moment I was waiting for, the ceremonious opening of the 9 Liter bottle of 2001 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir. We recently revisited this wine in our library tastings and I remember it scoring top rankings. The larger format bottle didn’t seem to differ from its 750 ml equivalent. It had very distinctive earthy characteristics, and the palate was silky and smooth.
Since I don’t have room to fill in the details about all the wines we shared, I would like to finish with the highlight of my evening, the 1999 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine had bright and distinctive fruit with perfectly balanced acidity and a silky, tannin structure. This delicate yet robust pinot noir is still a star after roughly 12 years in bottle.
Once again, I was reminded of what a wonderful producer we work for. Even though those incredible wines were all made before my time at Talley Vineyards, it was very special to get to experience these vintages with the family that produced them.
Harvest is finally over. Well almost over. Theoretically harvest is over because there are no more early mornings and long work days but the lasting effects of harvest are still present.
|Looking inside a barrel with malolatic fermentation|
Here at Talley we have a certain affinity with native fermentation both primary and secondary. Primary fermentation is just about wrapped up and we are now beginning secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation. Simply put, we allow the native lactic acid bacteria to convert the malic acid in the wine to lactic acid. I like to say that malic acid is the apple acid and lactic acid is the milk acid. Malic acid is more acidic and lactic acid is smoother and is less acidic. Because we do not inoculate, our wines, our secondary fermentations tends to take longer. We allow this to happen in the majority of our wines excluding out Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Bishops Peak Chardonnay. The majority of our Chardonnays go through a very slow secondary fermentation with most not finishing until late spring and in some years, early summer.
|Special fermentation bung allows gas to escape without letting air in.|
So why are we doing this? Well first off we want the malic acid converted to lactic acid for the mouth feel. Secondly, we let malolactic fermentation happen intentionally so it doesn’t happen unintentionally in the bottle when it gets to your house. If you have ever had an “active” fermentation occur in bottle, you know it is not a fun wine to drink. Stale beer comes to mind when I think of this.
I didn’t write this to teach everyone about secondary fermentation but to explain that once the harvest is over, it’s not really over.
Thanksgiving is upon us, which is a great time to consider those things that make life so special. These are some of the things that I am thankful for.
I’m thankful for my wonderful family, both those who are with me now as well as those who came before. I was so lucky to work with both my grandfather and my dad and to learn many of the valuable lessons about integrity and respect that I try to practice every day. I’m blessed to be married to my wonderful wife and to have two great daughters. Johnine and I appreciate living so close to our mothers and our extended families.
I’m thankful for the work that I do. I’m privileged to work with a great group of people who bring passion and commitment to work every day. I love to spend time with passionate people. I’m also proud to produce tangible things that people enjoy—whether it’s a special bottle of wine or the latest shipment of Talley Farms Fresh Harvest.
I’m thankful to live on the Central Coast. Not only is this one of those special places on Earth capable of producing world class chardonnay and pinot noir, it also has beautiful weather year round and all kinds of fun stuff to do.
I hope this causes you to reflect on those things that are special in your life and that you are thankful for.
Best wishes for a joyous Thanksgiving!
Winter and the holidays have most definitely arrived here at Talley Vineyards. As I write this blog, the skies are grey, it has started to rain, and the vines continue to turn various shades of yellow and orange. This week, our talented staff put the finishing touches on a very festive display of holiday décor and gift items in our tasting room. That’s right; the reindeers are out, the unseasonably skinny barrel stave “Santa” is on the wall, and the large wreaths on the door have covered me in festive glitter more than a few times. It’s a very manly look! Yes, this is my favorite time of the year here in the tasting room – and coming soon is one of my favorite events!
On Friday, December 7th we will host our annual holiday open house here in our tasting room. From 4:30-7:00 pm, we have lots for our members and friends to do and see. To start, we will have special vendors displaying their products, including balsamic vinegars and olive oils by Robbie Robbins, art by Lorri Trogdon, recycled barrel art by Rerun Productions, and Arbonne products by our very own Marian Fiorentino. We will have great bites by our house chef Sarah Matthews and live music by local guitarist Casey McDonald. To cap it all off, what is more fun than getting a great deal on wine? Getting a great deal on wine out of a holiday stocking! Everyone that comes to our open house will receive a stocking with a surprise wine discount up to 50% off or a gift card to use on gifts and wine in our tasting room. It really is a fun night.
I look forward to seeing you all this holiday season!
Thanksgiving always gets me thinking about food, and thinking about food always gets me thinking about wine. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes…pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, there’s a lot of great choices on this annual day of total over-indulgence. Recently the whole staff at Talley Vineyards was asked what wines they’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner. I have my own ideas, but this really got me thinking, what IS the best wine for this unique dinner? —What do the sommeliers recommend?
I met with Todd Brown, Sommelier at Lido, Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach and he had a lot to say about this topic. Todd points out, “The problem is that we don’t serve Thanksgiving Day dinner in courses where we can pair each dish with a different wine. With all the dishes and condiments on the table we pass the plate and load up on a little bit of everything all at once.” So with that in mind, I asked him what the best solution would be- and I really liked what he had to say.
He recommends a ½ glass of Rosemary’s Pinot Noir AND a ½ glass of Rosemary’s Chardonnay. (I’ll take a full glass of each, thank you.)
Todd explained that the Talley wines are a great choice because of their balance, particularly their higher acid, lower alcohol and mild tannins that enhance the flavors of food so well. He says “The higher acidity in the wine lets it pair with heavier, starchier foods like potatoes and turkey with dressing. The lower alcohol doesn’t over-exert itself and mask the flavors of the food.” Todd explains that there’s a necessity for both wines because chardonnay and pinot noir go great with turkey. The oaky, yet crisp elements of chardonnay are great with starches while pinot noir’s earthiness is a best bet for complementing vegetable sides like brussel sprouts and green beans as well as the fruitiness of cranberry sauce.
So take this for what it’s worth, but most importantly don’t limit yourself. I would like to thank Todd for his insights, but mostly for his permission to open 2 bottles of Rosemary’s Vineyard wines.
Thanksgiving, is just around the corner. It's my favorite holiday because I love to cook. This year I plan to brine my turkey then roast it in my wood burning oven. Every year people ask me what I drink with the meal. My favorite choice is our Estate Pinot Noir because of its balance and elegance, which I find works well with the complex flavors of the meal. The magnums we're featuring this month are perfect for extended family. I asked our crew here at Talley Vineyards what they plan to serve. Best wishes to everyone for a joyous Thanksgiving!
Nicole Bertotti-Pope, Assistant Winemaker, 2010 Rincon Pinot Noir
“Pinot Noir is a great match for turkey and all the usual side dish suspects, and what better excuse than Thanksgiving to pull out those single vineyard pinots you've been saving all year! The 2010 Rincon Pinot Noir is tasting great right now, and has just the right balance of fruit, spice and earthiness to pair with just about everything on the table. I think it will go perfectly with my dish of maple chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.”
David Block, Sales Manager, 2011 Bishop’s Peak Riesling
“I vote for the 2011 Bishop’s Peak Riesling. I would serve that as the cook’s prep wine to be consumed in copious amounts with light snacks such as seasoned nuts like Rosemary almonds or wasabi spiced peanuts.Drink up sailors it’s time to cook!”
Alyssa Ball, Direct Sales Manager, 2010 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay
“One of my favorite fall foods is butternut squash and I always like to include it in my Thanksgiving meal. This year I plan to roast the butternut squash and serve it with browned butter and fresh herbs. I recommend enjoying a glass of Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay along with this delicious and simple side dish.”
Eric Johnson, Winemaker, 2010 Rincon Chardonnay
“At the Thanksgiving meal, my favorite food on the plate is stuffing. I like a stuffing that uses tart green apples as a primary ingredient, because the apples add so much extra flavor. Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay is the perfect wine to pair with apple stuffing and I plan to enjoy a glass or two for the holiday. ”
Michele Good, Director of Business Operations, 2010 Talley Vineayards Estate Chardonnay
“I’m going Estate Chard. Love that wine and goes good with Turkey, gravy, potatoes, appetizers, and everything else I eat on T-day.”
Anna Heacock, Marketing Manager, 2005 Rosemary's Pinot Noir
“I plan on bringing a few bottles. I’m finally going to open a 2005 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. While I know this wine still has many good years left, I’m not very patient and I know it’s drinking beautifully now. I will savor this wine from appetizer to dessert- it doesn’t need a complement. Because I will want to enjoy at least a full glass (or two), I need to provide a distraction that I can feel good about. For that, I will also bring a few Bishop’s Peak Chardonnays, absolutely delicious as an aperitif and a perfectly refreshing pairing to all the traditional Thanksgiving flavors of savory, nutty and fruity.”
Belinda Christensen, Direct Sales Assistant, assorted Talley and Bishop's Peak wines
“If you were to come to the Christensen family Thanksgiving table, you would find Prime Rib, not turkey. And at the very crowded table, would be multiple bottles of wine including Stone Corral Pinot Noir, some Rincon Pinot Noir, Bishop’s Peak Cabernet, maybe some Elevation Red, a bottle of Riesling for my mother, and a bottle of Rosemary’s Chardonnay for those white wine drinkers. Something for everyone."
When I joined the Talley Vineyards blogosphere, I vowed to not use my blog to sell anything. That thought is out the window for this blog, because I’m so excited about what we are about to offer our customers! At our annual Harvest Open House on Sunday, November 4th, we are going to start pouring wine on tap and filling growlers! What is a growler, you say? Those of you who are craft beer fanatics like I am probably already know that growlers are reusable containers that you can continue to have refilled where you purchased them. The first commonly-used growlers were metal-lidded pails that would “growl” as carbon dioxide gas escaped from the lid, though ours will be a more convenient and well-sealed 1.89 liter glass container.
On November 4th we will be starting off with a crisp Edna Valley sauvignon blanc. We will then be adding more taps and additional wines, allowing us to offer a variety of wines including some special, seasonal offerings on rotation. One of my favorite aspects of visiting breweries has always been the ability to taste and take home very limited run brews that were not produced in significant quantities for bottling. For the winery, that means that we can make special, small batches of wine and maybe even run a few trials. Additionally, wine on tap and growlers mean less packaging, which is environmentally friendly and reduces costs that we can pass on to you – the customer. So come on by for our open house, grab a growler full of wine and come back regularly to see what’s on tap!
I thought you might like to see the answers to my blog contest on some of our tasting room attendants I posted a few weeks back. Thank you to all who participated.
|Mike||A. Worked for thirty years as a school teacher and gives tours at Talley Vineyards|
|Lucy||B. Our Tasting Room Manager who has been at Talley Vineyards for over nine years|
|Jane||C. One of two attendants who work on Mondays and match their outfits, also our lead tasting room attendant|
|Sharon||D. Has worked at Talley Vineyards for over 20 years and considered our “tasting room mom”|
|Sarah||E. One of two attendants who work on Mondays and match their outfits, also our in-house chef|
|Marian||F. Runs in marathons including the 2011 Boston and Big Sur Marathons|
G. Is a retired doctor and drives to Talley Vineyards weekly from Cambria
|Bobby||H. Aspires to be a Brewmaster and brings a new beer for the staff to try almost every Saturday|
I often tell people that you can’t be a farmer if you don’t love the weather. More precisely, I mean that we must accept the fact that the weather is beyond our control and we adjust our schedule and practices accordingly. It’s important to keep this in mind as we ride the roller coaster that is harvest.
This week, we’re experiencing our annual Indian Summer—that last bit of warm weather that finishes harvest. We’ve had some of the warmest weather of the year during this period, with temperatures in the high 90s. This is due to high pressure moving over our area and the presence of Santa Ana conditions—a warm offshore flow as opposed to our typical pattern of cool onshore breezes. This mini heat wave came right on the heels of a rainstorm last week that dumped just over an inch of rain in the Arroyo Grande Valley.
At this point, everything on our ranches has been harvested with the exception of some chardonnay in the Rincon Vineyard, which we will finish on Monday. The other exception is about three tons of sauvignon blanc in Oliver’s Vineyard that we will attempt to make into a sweet dessert wine. The rain we received last week created perfect conditions for botrytis cinerea, often referred to as the “noble rot.” Botrytis is a fungus that grows ongrapes due to wet conditions and which causes the grapes to shrivel and the sugar and acid to become extremely concentrated. This is undesirable in most of the wines we produce, and we typically go to great lengths to prevent it, including leaf removal and thinning of infected grape clusters. Botrytis is critical for the production of white dessert wines and sauvignon blanc is one of the white grape varieties most suited to make this wine. Consequently, we decided to leave those grapes on the vine with the hope to let botrytis grow and to make our second ever late harvest sauvignon blanc. The only other time we did this was in 1994, when we had a very rainy harvest. That wine was legendary.
So here’s another way of expressing my “learn to love the weather” mantra: when you have lemons, make lemonade. When you have rain, make dessert wine!